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Old September 11, 2019, 01:59 PM   #1
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Storing a black powder gun loaded

Hello! How can I store my black powder gun or revolver cylinder loaded without getting any issues with the gun itself and the powder? Usually I store my black powder revolver unloaded, cleaned and greased so that it won’t catch any rust.

But if it were to be stored loaded i bet that the grease could contaminate the powder over time. And since the gunpowder is hydroscopic, it may cause rust in the chambers? Will a tight seal around the chambers be enough to keep any moisture out?

How did they do it back in the days?
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Old September 11, 2019, 02:46 PM   #2
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Does not have to be a big problem

Understand that we are referring to "Black-Powder". BP is very forgiving until it is ignited at which time, can become very corrosive and as you stated; hydroscopic. Oh course BP got very wet, in the old day but could be dried out and used. Historically, I have never read where BP got old and discarded. As for contamination, I suppose that can happen but you know how to prevent that....

In Iowa, am M/L an M/L is considered unloaded if there is no primer in place. That indicated that an M/L can be loaded at the beginning of the deer season and left that way, till the end of the season. ……
An X-Friend of mine asked me to pull a round from an M/L rifle. that had a "main" charge in place for about five years. He want to sell it and be able to say that it had never fired. I pulled it and he was concerned about the barrels condition. The barrel was dirty but not rusty or fouled. The Sabot was intact and the BP still ignited. I don't recommend five years but kind of enjoyed that exercise. …..

Don't know if you remember then BP was sold in tin containers but have never seen any rust in or out of them. ……

Suggest your do more internet searching to satisfy your question.
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Old September 11, 2019, 03:01 PM   #3
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Before loading a gun I carefully remove all grease and oil, wet and dry. I then fire a min of 2 caps, or every revolver chamber. That is not how I want to store a gun longer than over night on hunting season. For longer, I would not worry about the charge, but; I would worry about leaving it dry for a long time. Not worried about the powder.

Back in the day, often guns remained loaded for years. it is a classic issue to always check an old front stuffer for being loaded. Yea, way back in the day, the gun was not much use for self protection if you needed 15 minutes to get it loaded. The begs the question, why do that today?

You can pull the ball (if you use lead) and unload a muzzle loader. My gut feeling hydroscope, microscopic, endoscopic not an issue. I would not worry about the powder going bad either. The history is interesting though. They did often get stored loaded and ready.
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Old September 11, 2019, 06:48 PM   #4
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If you store it with a greased wad you will get some powder contamination. Black power is not hygroscopic until it's fired. Back in the day for the most part they didn't use wads or lube. Sometimes they put beeswax over the chamber mouths but that was most likely for waterproofing than anything else.
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Old September 11, 2019, 07:10 PM   #5
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I don't see a problem storing a charged barrel so long as the rifle is stored in low humidity and the barrel was washed/clean prior to its it charging.
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Old September 13, 2019, 12:39 PM   #6
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I had a cap and ball revolver loaded for 4 years and it fired just like it was loaded that day, so as long as the powder stays dry it will fire, it won't rust the barrel either because black powder don't become corrosive until fired.
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Old September 13, 2019, 04:10 PM   #7
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Depends on the humidity in your area.
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Old September 13, 2019, 04:24 PM   #8
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Nipple Poly caps

Just in case you are stilt having some moisture concerns that might get in through the vents, they make Poly nipple caps that would add some protection. Basically they look like a small red witches hat. There is always a way to improvise a cap, But I really don't think there is much to be concerned about.....

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Old September 15, 2019, 07:19 AM   #9
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Antique firearms have been found with loaded barrels and chambers over 100 years old and they still fire. I have fired factory BP cartridges over a century old. If they are a dud, it's the primer compound. If you use REAL black powder I wouldn't worry at all. The substitutes I can't vouch for.
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Old September 15, 2019, 10:33 AM   #10
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Same here

The substitutes I can't vouch for.
Neither could or would I as their chemistry will remain a mystery to most of us?? I do know that they are still classified as a combustible "Mixture"

Now then;
Charcoal; If it gets wet, you can dry it.
Sulphur; Same-Same
Saltpeter/potassium nitrate; Same-Same

Mixed together, you can still dry it.

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Old September 15, 2019, 03:31 PM   #11
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Good question sir, and welcome to TFL.

Black powder and BP substitutes by themselves are not hydroscopic. The RESIDUE left upon firing is another story. That is why it is imperative that you clean any firearm after you have shot BP loads through them.

If your loads are sealed properly and protected from moisture and other foreign materials, a C&B revolver can be kept loaded indefinitely. I have been carrying caplock revolvers for defense and hunting since I was a teenager. I have not had any misfires or FTF's. One of the tricks I use is sealing the capped nipples with pieces of tubing cut from hospital nasal O2 and IV lines. Nothing gets in and upon firing, the plastic sheath keeps the caps from shattering and possibly falling into the gun's action and jamming it up. One flick of a pocketknife blade removes the spent caps and sheaths when it is time to reload again.
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Old September 16, 2019, 01:48 AM   #12
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As long as you use a ball or conical that seals the chamber and have a proper fitting cap on the nipples, you should be fine. The lube/grease concerns are worth noting tho and what I would do is use a cardboard disc in between the powder and a lubed wad, that way if temps go up and the grease starts running, it's contacting the cardboard.

Also, even if some lube does get past that cardboard disc, it's not like it's touching all the powder, just that which is nearest to it. Remember, the powder will be compressed, it'd take an awful lot of lube to affect the powder.

One thing I would do is store it in a cool, dry place. Expose it to as little heat as possible and it should be able to fire for many years after storing.

I wouldn't worry over cylinder corrosion, even if it did happen you can buy another cylinder easy.
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Old November 24, 2019, 12:33 AM   #13
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As we are into deer season in most areas, and ML rifles are likely afield, I felt it was not inappropriate to resurrect this thread and add a comment.

I have frequently left a ML rifle charged but not primed for weeks at a time during deer season. There are two T/C .50's in my wall rack in the den at this time so configured. My practice, if the rifle is left charged till the next hunt, is to remove the ramrod and drop it into the bore. That serves as clear indication that the gun is charged and will help to prevent a double charge were I to become lackadaisical.
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Old November 24, 2019, 05:30 AM   #14
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My ex's stepdad loaded a CVA Hawken with Pyrodex and then had to have a pacemaker. He died 12 years later and her mom gave me the rifle. One cap, one trigger pull and the rifle fired with all the authority a 90 grain charge should have. I say 90 grains because that's what his powder measure was set on.
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Old December 4, 2019, 01:59 PM   #15
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My bud left a Colt 36 caliber loaded for a year and when we went shooting he fired it. One cylinder was a little weak but the other five were full power. He just loaded the gun and greased the chamber mouths and capped the nipples just like you would if you were an old homesteader and kept it loaded for defense.
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Old December 5, 2019, 04:11 PM   #16
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Black powder is stable and will remain so for centuries. It does not matter how humid your environment is. Black powder has been recovered that was loaded centuries before the invention of common air conditioning and it is as good as new.

I have had problems with lubed wads (I tried to use 3 instead of 1 in lieu of filler once) and when I pressed the bullet home it squeezed the lube out of the wads and ruined the powder. So, there may be a risk of lube fouling the powder if you use a lubed wad under the ball.

But if the gun is kept in normal storage in nearly any kind of home, your gun will stay loaded just fine essentially forever.
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Old December 7, 2019, 10:33 PM   #17
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Think about this for a moment. That flintlock hanging over the door in a colonial house was probably stored loaded and ready to fire. It would not be much good if there was a sudden Indian attack and the home owner had to take the time to load his rifle.
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black powder , loaded , storing

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